For gifts, I sometimes try to keep a mental tally of how much I've spent/how much more I should spend. I usually aim for a few smaller things as opposed to one big thing. And since I'm an adult with adult friends, I can't really buy things like DVDs and video games for people since they've got jobs and, like me, probably buy what they want all the time.
Since I quit smoking last summer, I'd been doing a lot more crafting. I've been finishing more cross stitch projects than ever, I made my own greeting cards and gift bags for Christmas, and I taught myself crochet.
(Crochet is like the ultimate ex-smoker's craft. Other than the need to count stitches for amigurumi, it's basically mindless work that you do with your hands. If it put nicotine into my bloodstream, it would be perfect.)
So, I've been doing a lot of handmade gifts, which kind of screws up the "appropriate gift amount" calculations.
Since I already have so much embroidery floss, I try to use what I have on hand. And since I do have so much embroidery floss, that usually works out fairly well. And even if I do have to buy a color or two, regular DMC floss is about 40 cents a skein. Each skein is eight yards of six strand floss. Most of the time I cross stitch with two stands, backstitch with one.
Cirque des Cercles as presents because that things going on Month 9, and there's nobody I like that much. I think I've gone through 2-3 skeins, and I'm over 1/6th of the way done.
So, basically, it's extremely unlikely that I'm going to use an entire skein or more on one person's present. Unless I'm getting a specific item (potholder, tea towel, whatever), I've probably got fabric lying around. And, even if I don't, Charles Craft Silver Standard Aida is like $2.99 at Michaels, and, depending on size, I can probably get at least two projects out of that.
Yeah, like an idiot, I've just admitted that the cost of materials for presents for friends and family is, like, a dollar. (Unless you were special enough to get a tea towel or something.)
Which leaves me wondering, "How exactly do I count this towards 'socially acceptable gift amount'?" I've never thought cross stitch takes any huge amount of skill--can you count? Can you make an "x"? I probably shouldn't be admitting this either if I want to keep giving people cross stitched gifts, but it really isn't that hard; it just takes patience.